The first time I saw this film I thought it was just about the best comic book movie that had ever been made. After re-watching it it’s still pretty damn good but there are definitely some things that I’d overlooked the first time… some bad things.
This installment picks up pretty much right where Spider-Man left us. Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is back at it stopping bad guys left and right. This is however taking an enormous toll on his personal life. He’s missing class, late for work, pissing off friends and has essentially no money. Harry Osborn (James Franco) has taken over for his father at the head of Oscorp and is dead set on getting Spider-Man for killing his father. They never did explain how Oscorp got back on the map but that’s neither here nor there.
Harry is backing scientist Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) in an experiment which will provide a renewable energy source for the whole world. As they tend to do in movies, things go terribly wrong and Octavius is transformed into Doc Ock. During the initial confrontation between Spider-Man & Doc Ock, Spidey’s powers simply stop working for a moment with no explanation given.
Around this time, Peter learns that Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) is going to be marrying another person. This of course leads to all kinds of angst that normally accompanies unrequited love (how’s that for an bookwormy sentence???) Peter then makes a decision that he will simply no longer be Spider-Man and in a scene straight out of the comics takes off his costume and throws it away.
As Peter is off on his “I’m not Spider-Man” tour, Harry’s hatred for Spider-Man finally compels him to act and when Doc Ock comes to him looking for a favor he cuts a deal – for Spider-Man. He tells Doc to get to Spidey through Peter. In a pathetically predictable series of events, Doc Ock steals Mary Jane and tells Peter to have Spider-Man come get her. He of course does and the fight is on between Spidey & Ock.
- The “economics” of this flick is one of the things that I’d completely overlooked the first time through. Peter is broke. Aunt May (played once again by Rosemary Harris) is broke to the point of foreclosure). They do a great job of showing us how broke they are, but a terrible job with any kind of resolution to the issue. By the time the movie wraps there’s a bunch of stuff figured out… but everyone is still broke.
- Spider-Man swings his way around town in the first one and continues to do so here. I didn’t really catch it much in the first one, but there are a couple of times here where he’s “swinging” from absolutely nothing. I’d file this in the “suspend disbelief” category but it was a tad bothersome.
- “Go get em tiger” – Mary Jane says this to Peter at the end of the flick just before he swings off to save the day. This single line starts that incredible gayness that continues in Spider-Man 3. As soon as she said it I cringed.
- Train fight – The fight between Spider-Man & Doc Ock aboard the subway train was epic. This rivals the opening scene in X2 as my favorite sequences in a comic book movie.
- There’s a scene at the end where Harry is having a conversation with his father (roll reprized by Willem Dafoe). I won’t spoil it here but I’ll say that the intro to the New Goblin is quite well done.
- J. Jonah Jameson – I said it in my review for the original Spider-Man but this roll is incredibly well written and J.K. Simmons delivers his lines in a way that has be rolling every time.
If you’re only going to watch one Spider-Man movie this is the one I’d go with. It’s not bogged down with a bunch of origin stuff like the original and there is a TON of action in here. The story is pretty straight forward with a couple of side-stories thrown in there for good measure. As with the first entry in the series, I could have done with a little less Aunt May and Mary Jane but I’d definitely give this a thumbs up.